“I will praise you in this storm and I will lift my hands; for you are who you are, no matter where I am. And every tear I’ve cried, you hold in your hand. You never left my side and though my heart is torn, I will praise you in this storm.”
Before I talk about what we witnessed 2 weeks ago, I’d like to let the people of Moore, OK know that my heart is absolutely broken for them, and we are all praying for them. What we went through pales in comparison to the devastation they’ve suffered.
The day after the May 15th tornado in Cleburne (that’s where I live, by the way. Now you know.), I wrote down my account of what happened, but since we had no internet for a week, then my blog was hacked (isn’t that lovely?), I haven’t been able to share it with you until now. Here’s the story of how the Cleburne tornado affected my family. All pictures were taken with my iphone and are unedited.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013. I sat on my bed that morning, thinking about the weekend, and how we would spend it. Out in the backyard, probably. Maybe have the family over. I made spaghetti for dinner, then Joel and I went to church choir practice. While we were there, they said a hail storm was expected, so we all rushed home to put our cars in the garage. Somehow, before I knew it, Joel, Cassidy, Izzy, Joel’s parents, and I were all huddled together in the bathroom. A tornado might be coming. I had hunkered in a bathroom or closet many times before and wasn’t too worried. In all honesty, I was a little annoyed at having to get Cassidy out of bed.
Then we heard a noise. Almost like the humming of an AC unit, but louder. Then it got louder and louder until it became a ferocious roar. Our ears popped and the air was sucked out of the room. It all happened so quickly, but it seemed as if everything was in slow motion. My mother-in-law held Cassidy. I had my arms around Joel’s neck and my cheek against his, frantically whispering prayers. The roar got louder and there were terrifying bangs on our roof. Cassidy got scared and cried so we sang ‘if you’re happy and you know it’ to distract her. I knew it was especially bad when Joel quietly whispered, “I love you” in my ear. He thought we would die that night. Then, silence. I mean, absolute quiet. No wind, no rain. Not. One. Sound. We wondered if it was over, and then the roar came again. More banging and howling. If possible, this time was even more terrifying than the last. Cassidy screamed as our ears kept popping. I prayed for God to protect us until at last, it was all over.
We grabbed lanterns and walked into the front yard. I couldn’t see anything except for my neighbors’ lanterns dancing in the darkness. I heard frantic voices, “everyone ok?!”. I ran through the yard in bare feet looking for Joel. There were limbs and roof shingles and pieces of metal everywhere. As I walked and took in all the damage, I thanked God for the miracle He worked in that tiny bathroom. We were all safe. My family was ok. Praise God. We were missing some parts of our roof, our trees were ripped apart, and there was an enormous tree in our pool (along with our patio furniture), but all things considered, our damage was minimal.
My parents and grandparents were not so lucky. My parents’ living room ceiling collapsed, dumping insulation all over everything. Water seeped into every wall. My grandparents’ house of 41 years collapsed around them. They stood in a tiny hallway along with my parents as the ceilings fell in, windows shattered, and trees were ripped from the ground. By the grace of God, all four of them walked away without so much as a scratch. The house was absolutely ruined. 41 years of memories gone in an instant. The playhouse my Grandaddy built for my sister and me was smashed against a tree. The carport was completely blown away. The tornado dumped sludge and murky water into their den, ruining treasured pictures, books, and keepsakes. All pictures below are of my grandparents’ house.
[Doesn't look too bad from the outside, right?]
[after my cousins had shoveled away all the soggy insulation]
The next day, as my sister, mother, and I walked over to my grandparents’ house, my sister warned me to brace myself. I could handle it, I said. But one look at the battered shell of a house that was once my most treasured retreat, and I knew I couldn’t handle it. I hugged my grandparents, cried, and spoke to a few news reporters (they were hovering like flies), then walked to a secluded part of the front yard. I looked down and saw a bird wrapped around a tree branch and in that moment, something snapped and I came completely unhinged. I stood in the front yard and sobbed like a little girl. This was without a doubt, the worst thing my family has experienced.
[the backyard. That's my playhouse.]
My cousins, aunt and uncle, sister, and mother and I all worked frantically to get Nana and Grandaddy’s belongings out of the house before any more roof caved in and more damage was done. A crew of volunteers from Home Depot (God bless them!) showed up in the front yard with water, gloves, shovels, and chainsaws and began sawing the fallen trees apart and moving them. Church groups drove around with food and water. The way the community came together during all this was truly touching. I’ve never been more proud of my town.
Hundreds of others in Cleburne lost their homes. Over 600 homes were damaged and so many, like Nana and Grandaddy’s, were destroyed. Joel’s close friend lost his childhood home. Half of the people on my parents’ street were told their homes weren’t safe to live in. Even with destruction and despair all around us, all we could do was thank The Lord for keeping us safe. There were no fatalities that night.
Since the tornado, we’ve had several more storms (when will they stop?!) and I’d be lying if I said we haven’t been scared to death every time we see a little rain cloud. There are still tarps on every roof and small twigs, leaves, and debris line the streets. Every time we go outside, we’re reminded of that awful night. My grandparents have found a duplex to rent until their house can be rebuilt. Everyone is doing their best to move on. Every day I hug my husband and my baby girl tighter and remember that I could’ve lost them. All there is left to do now is be thankful for family and the gift of life and “praise the God who gives and takes away.”
Yesterday was a special day. Obviously, because of Mother’s Day, but also because our baby girl, Cassidy was dedicated at church. For those of you who aren’t familiar, in some churches, after a baby is born, the parents will have them dedicated. Basically, it’s a ceremony where all new parents line up in front of the congregation, and dedicate their new baby to God, promising to love them, pray for them, and raise them to be followers of Christ. In turn, the church also promises to keep the new parents in their prayers and help them in any way they can. It’s a sweet little ceremony that is meaningful and special to the parents. Our whole family was there, which made it even more special to us! Joel and I were so happy to take part in this and will remember it always!
It was especially meaningful for me, because I was asked to sing. Here’s a little tip: don’t ever agree to sing a song about watching your baby grow up ON Mother’s Day, and ON the day your own baby is being dedicated. Yikes. I may have had a teensy meltdown in the middle of my song. Luckily, every mom in that room understood completely.
My whole Mother’s Day weekend was wonderful. I have the most thoughtful, sweet husband who cherishes me and makes me feel like the world’s greatest mother, even when I don’t deserve it.
I hope all the moms out there had a wonderful Mother’s Day and felt as appreciated and loved as I did!
Well, folks, my baby is one today. My baby is one today. Let that sink in. My precious, soft, cuddly baby girl…is no longer a baby. We’ve just crossed over into toddler land. A toddler. How. Did. This. Happen?!
How could this be, when, just yesterday we packed our bags and headed to the hospital absolutely terrified?
Just yesterday tears rolled down my cheeks as I heard my baby cry for the first time.
Just yesterday Joel and I brought our sweet bundle home and began the most terrifying/satisfying/tremendous chapter of our lives.
It was JUST YESTERDAY. So how can this be, that suddenly I have a toddler walking around my house babbling sweetly, giving me high-fives, eating grilled cheese sandwiches, and saying, “oh myyyy” constantly (seriously- we have a little George Takei on our hands….)?
However it happened, time somehow sneaked in and stole my baby from me. It didn’t matter how many pictures and videos I took or how hard I squeezed her as I rocked her to sleep every night…it happened. She’s one. Next up, college.
Before I get too caught up in my own emotion, here are a few fun 12 month stats for the birthday girl:
As I mentioned before, yep…we’re walking. Full-on walking. It’s freaking adorable.
Eating solids like a boss. Spaghetti is still the favorite, but animal crackers and green beans run a close second. Meatloaf has also proven successful.
This girl loves shoes. Especially putting on the shoes. If I hold a shoe up, she’ll stick out her right foot every single time and let me put her shoes on her. If I take the shoes off, she’ll bring me said shoes and promptly stick her right foot in the air, just waiting for her shoe to be put on. She doesn’t seem to care much about the left foot. She’s perfectly satisfied with just the right shoe on. Adorable, this kid!
Still an awesome nighttime sleeper. 12 1/2 to 13 hours every single night. Naps, however, are a different story. I’m lucky if I get one hour long nap a day out of her.
She’s started trying to climb everything. And a dish got broken yesterday afternoon. We may need one of those onesies that says, “I’m why we can’t have nice things” on it.
You should see the little red curls on the back of this kid’s head! Too much cuteness!
Still only 5 teeth, but she’s currently working on 2 new ones right now (fun times).
And now, here’s a short (hilarious) video of her walking. (turn up your volume; the sound’s the best part):
Happy birthday, Cassidy Grace. Your Daddy and I love you more than life itself!
P.S. I apologize for not updating sooner- I was literally locked out of my blog. Seriously. Something about a corrupted database…I dunno. Joel fixed it, though, so we’re back in business! So sorry for the absence!
Ok, raise of hands: who, out of all of you out there, actually cares about the goings on of my life?? Maybe 3 total?? ….oh well. It’s you 3 that give me motivation to keep blogging. Most people just look at the pictures, search for recipes, and leave the occasional comment (one of the most recent ones being: “will this still taste good if I stick it up my a**?”. Interesting….and the answer is most definitely yes, anonymous commenter….yes, it will.) And that’s perfectly wonderful. I LOVE having people who love food reading my blog. Love it! I know for most of you, this is just a food blog, period. But for those 3 of you who actually like my non-food posts, thanks a million. Really.
Things are zipping right along for us- most of our boxes are unpacked, I’m getting things hung up on the walls (blank walls are so sad…), and the faux fireplace my dad, Grandaddy, and father-in-law have been building is almost finished (it’s going to look amazing!). We’ve actually met a bunch of our neighbors, too! Izzy enjoys socializing with her fur-neighbors behind us (two Westies and a Schnauzer- so cute!) and she’s settled right in. She absolutely loves her new backyard; there’s plenty of room to run, lots of sunshine, and dogs on every side of the fence! It’s so nice having a sense of “community” again (something we definitely did NOT have in our old town) and we’re loving being back home. I love my new kitchen and have finally been able to cook a few meals and have family over. I can’t wait to give you a tour of our house!
Our 6 year anniversary was this past Sunday and we celebrated by buying each other iPhone 5s, going to our favorite restaurant Saturday night, then taking it easy all day Sunday. Wow, 6 years of marriage (love you, sweetie!)!
Cassidy is 8 months old and more beautiful and funny than ever. She amazes me every day and I feel like the luckiest mommy in the world! She’s been working hard on learning to walk- she’s taken a few steps and I think we’re getting pretty close! She also waved “bye-bye” twice today, which, obviously makes her the smartest, brightest baby in the world. Of course. I’ve been working really hard (and long) on a post all about homemade baby food- breaking it down into easy to follow steps, tips, and recipes. I seriously can’t wait to share it with you!
I’ve got some good stuff coming up on the blog- a wedding shower post for a dear friend, homemade baby food, and some fun Halloween treats! Stay tuned!
Well, our sweet Cassidy Grace is finally here! She’s only a week old and we’re already totally and completely smitten (of course, we were smitten at first glance!). She has my hair (red!), eyes and smile, and Joel’s dimples (yay!) and cheeks. She’s just gorgeous! I went in to be induced last Tuesday morning, but ended up having to have an emergency c-section (our girl was just too big!) and Cassidy was born at 8:09 PM. Of course that’s the shortened version and maybe I’ll write the long version soon, but for now all you need to know is that SHE’S HERE! And she’s absolutely perfect…
We were in the hospital 4 days and had a wonderful experience there. Cassidy had so many visitors and wonderful presents! Everybody’s doing great now, although it’s a big adjustment and there’s lots of learning as we go! Even though we’re completely sleep-deprived, Joel and I are the happiest we’ve ever been and our little girl is the greatest blessing we could have ever received!
Thank you, everyone, for your prayers, support and encouragement throughout these nine months. It’s been an incredible journey and my life will forever be changed in the best possible way. I can’t wait to watch this little girl grow (just as long as she does it as slowly as possible!)
Our poor, neglected nursery has just been sitting upstairs for a couple of months now with only the bare essentials set up. I’ve been feeling so guilty about not having it finished (especially when people keep asking us, “do you have the nursery all set up?”….no, no we don’t. We’re bums.). But my sweet parents came to visit this weekend and helped us get everything finished! Yay! Daddy and Joel hung shelves, curtains and did some other odd jobs while my mom and I put together the last bits of decorations. We’re SO happy with the finished product and can’t wait to get Cassidy all settled in! I thought you might like to take a little peek inside:
We didn’t go with a theme, really; just lots of bright, happy colors. The walls are painted a light grey, just like the rest of the house. The furniture came from Pottery Barn Kids, courtesy of my in-laws. The bedding is also Pottery Barn Kids, which was a gift from my mom, sister and good friend Chris.
I found these shadow boxes waaay back in the summer on sale for $1 each at Hobby Lobby (they each had an ugly white letter in the middle). My sister and I pried the backs off, took out the letters and glued in different colors of scrapbook paper. My mom and I found the little pictures and gerber daisy on the gift wrap aisle of Walmart (the little pictures are actually gift tags, but I think they work perfectly here!).
The little birdy is my favorite.
The rocking chair comes from Joel’s great-grandmother. We had it reupholstered and my mom sewed a cute little pillow to go with it. The curtains (not shown) are made from the same fabric. I found the lamp at Home Goods (my all-time favorite store!) and I’ve had the table for years. We painted it a bright blue to compliment the yellows and pinks.
A close-up of the rocker and my mom’s pillow- isn’t that cute?! It’s super comfy too!
The changing table, initials we got at Anthropologie and a shelf that my mom painted and brought for us to use.
Well, that’s an in-depth look at our little cupcake’s nursery! I hope you enjoyed getting to take a peek inside- I’m so happy it’s finally finished and that I could share it with you!
Happy Friday, friends! Hopefully you all have something fun and exciting planned for the weekend. Joel and me? Well, I suppose we’ll be out and about, scrambling to make the most of our last days sans baby- shopping, eating out, going to a movie…you know, all those things we certainly won’t be able to do for awhile in just a mere couple of weeks. Two weeks. 12 days, to be exact. Just two weeks and our lives will be changed forever. Unless of course, our daughter is anything like me and decides to be difficult…
By the looks of things, Cassidy won’t be coming early (I know, I know- anything can happen, but….); I’ve made zero progress over the last 2 weeks. Zero. I’m trying not to get discouraged by this and living my life as I normally would; however, it’s hard when all I think about is baby-baby-baby 24/7.
It’s also hard because while I know I don’t necessarily look half bad, I feel like this:
A swollen, fat, grumpy mess. It also doesn’t help that my mood swings are more violent and erratic than ever (poor Joel….). HOWEVER, I am amazingly lucky to still be comfortable (for the most part), able to sleep well at night, energetic and in general, in great mental shape for being 38 (almost 39) weeks pregnant. Thank the Good Lord. I can honestly say that I’ve really enjoyed being pregnant (well, except for the 1st trimester) and I may even miss it a little.
We’ve just about got everything done- the bassinet is set up, clothes are washed and hung up, my freezer and pantry are stocked and ready to go, the car seat bases are set up in each of our cars…I’d say we’re ready for our little girl! Now we just need to get used to the idea that in 2 weeks, we’ll be parents. Though, I’m not sure there’s much that can be done to prepare for that. Is anybody really ever ready for something that huge?
So in these next two weeks as you go about your normal business, if you have a little spare time, I ask that you think of me, Jabba the Pregnant, and maybe send some good vibes or a quick prayer our way. Being first time parents is not only exciting, but a little scary and we’ll need all the help we can get! Also, any advice or tips you can offer is always, always appreciated! Thanks for taking the time to “listen” and thanks for being great readers! I’ll keep you posted!
Wow, sorry about that. It’s been like, FOREVER since I posted anything! How sad! But I swear I have a good reason! At first it was because I was so busy with the operas (they went great, by the way!), but then I became preoccupied with other things…things like saltine crackers, ginger ale and 24 hour sickness. No, I don’t have a cold- I’ve been very busy baking up something VERY special:
WE’RE HAVING A BABY!!!!
Yep, that’s right! Joel and I are having a baby and I just couldn’t WAIT to share the news with you! This is our first (well, if you don’t count Izzy) and I’m so excited that we get to share the experience with all of you! My readers are so special to me and I’m just thrilled to be able to keep you updated through every step! Right now I’m at about 7 weeks along and my due date is January 25 (I missed Mozart’s birthday by 2 days! Shucks!). We had our first doctor’s appointment Wednesday and we got to see the baby’s heartbeat! Very awesome! Please be patient with me throughout these next couple of weeks- I’m as sick as a dog and food is definitely NOT my friend right now. I’m going to do my very best to post often, but when the sight of pasta salad sends me running to the bathroom, it makes it just a teensy bit difficult (jeez, I can barely type pasta salad without wanting to puke).
Bear with me, friends! And pray for me- this is going to be SO new and SO different! And most of all- thanks for sticking with me!
I realize it’s been a slow week here at Sing For Your Supper, but I have good reason. You see, I’ve been busy with this…………
Charming, isn’t it? (I feel a little like Eddie Munster…). This is my costume for our production of The Mikado. These past couple of weeks have been filled with non-stop hip hop dancing, booty shaking, high note singing, EXHAUSTING, yet FUN, hard work. And tomorrow night we open. I’m expecting an extremely positive audience reaction- it’s hilarious. Any of you DFW-ers out there should definitely try to make one of the performances, I guarantee you’ll have a great time.
This will all be over in a couple of weeks and I’ll be back to posting 3 times a week again, I promise. For now, just bear with me…and wish me luck!
This month marks the 3 year blogiversary for Sing For Your Supper. Pretty exciting, if I do say so! 3 years of good food, lots of growing and learning and lots of truly wonderful readers. It’s amazing to look back and see how far I’ve come since April 2008- my pictures don’t entirely suck anymore, I’ve learned a thing or two about food styling/plating, and I’ve made SO many amazing friends. That’s something to celebrate. I was planning on making a big, gaudy, overdone cake with gobs and gobs of buttercream frosting. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately for me, it actually doesn’t.
See, there’s actually something about me that I’ve never shared with you because I like to keep my blog perky and sunshine-y. But there’s a part of my life that definitely is NOT sunshine-y. For over 5 years now, I’ve dealt with something that has controlled my life. I get sick all the time. I won’t go into detail because this is after all, a food blog; but let’s just say it encompasses all degrees of being sick- both trashcan and toilet. Sometimes I black out. Most times I throw up. But every single time I’m completely miserable for at least a day or two; sometimes a week. And poor Joel has had to put up with me. I feel like every other week he was nursing me on top of taking care of everything else while I was sick in bed. It sucks. This has been my life for 5 years. You may (or may not) have noticed that I haven’t been posting quite as frequently as I normally like to. To be honest, I haven’t cooked. I haven’t baked. I haven’t taken much pleasure in food lately because it always ends up making me sick. I hate to be sick. And no, I don’t have a disease or terminal illness (thank the good Lord), that’s not the problem. The problem is food. Food is the enemy. Or, I guess I should say food was the enemy.
We’ve pretty much figured out that I’m lactose-intolerant. If you know me at all you know how dear cheese is to me (I get cheese in my Christmas stocking, for heaven’s sake!). Cheese, milk, sour cream, butter…all of it. I ADORE dairy. But it definitely does not adore me. In fact, most times, it makes me feel like I’m going to die! Ugh! The pain, nausea and sheer discomfort is too much to bear. So I’ve cut it out. No more cheese. I was sulking and drowning in my sorrows for awhile. I mean, how UNFAIR is it for someone who loves cheese as much as I do to have a dairy intolerance?! But I sat down and really thought about what that would mean for my life- no more headaches, no more unexplained sickness in the middle of the night, no more scrutinizing over every piece of food I eat, no more worrying. As the bigger picture came into focus, a huge, heavy weight was lifted off my shoulders. That’s a pretty good feeling. So I “put on my big girl pants” and dealt with it.
The verdict? I. Feel. Amazing. I have a life again. I know it sounds a wee bit dramatic (and I’ll admit that I’m guilty of an occasional over-dramatization now and then), but I’m being 100% real and drama-free with you- my life has changed forever and I’m thrilled. Sure, I miss my beloved cheese like there’s no tomorrow and a little piece of me dies (ok, now I’m being dramatic) when I walk past the Blue Bell section of the grocery store, but I’ll be danged if it ain’t worth it!
So, there you have it. That’s the real truth about what’s been going on around here. And as for that big, gaudy, overdone cake…I’ll get around to it, I promise! Nothing is going to change here at Sing For Your Supper, so don’t worry. Although I’m definitely going to be testing and trying some new dairy-free recipes to share with my lactose-intolerant readers (I know you’re out there!)- which is actually something I’m really, really looking forward to. Thanks so much for celebrating this 3 year blogiversary with me. I know I didn’t post a happy-go-lucky recipe with beautiful photos and a couple of care-free paragraphs, but to me, this blogiversary has meant so much more! I love sharing my real life with you and am so fortunate to have readers who are so supportive and encouraging! Here’s to 3 more (dairy-free!) fantastic years! Cheers!